Parents, New born baby, Flint's Rx

Flint’s Rx Kids Program Provides Monthly Cash Aid For New Moms

The new cash transfer program offers $1,500 to during pregnancy, followed by monthly aid of $500 over the baby's first year.

Flint, Michigan, a city with one of the highest rates of child poverty in the nation, has taken a groundbreaking step to tackle the issue with a new transfer program that provides new mothers with financial support.

Pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha, who helped expose the city’s lead water crisis a decade ago, has launched Rx Kids, a first-of-its-kind community-partnered initiative that provides every new mother with $7,500 in cash aid over a year.

According to NPR, Flint’s new cash transfer program, which started in January, begins during pregnancy, with the first payment of $1,500 to encourage prenatal care. After delivery, mothers will receive monthly aid of $500 over the baby’s first year.

“We just had a baby miss their 4-day-old appointment because mom had to go back to work at four days,” Hanna-Attisha said, highlighting the financial struggles faced by new mothers in Flint, where the child poverty rate exceeds 50%.

Rx Kids is universal and not limited to lower-income households. The pediatrician, along with Luke Shaefer, a poverty expert at the University of Michigan and co-director of the program, hopes that including all new mothers, regardless of their income, will foster a broader sense of community and civic engagement.

Research published in the National Institutes of Health’s Library of Medicine has shown that childhood poverty can have detrimental effects on physical and mental health, brain development, and school performance. With roughly 1,200 babies born in Flint each year, Rx Kids providing cash assistance during this crucial period allows families to alleviate financial hardship, improve maternal and child health, and promote positive outcomes for Flint’s youngest residents.

“This is something that has been tried over and over and over again, in country after country,” Shaefer said, noting the success of similar programs in other nations. As the program progresses, researchers will track its impact on prenatal care, birth outcomes, and various indicators of community well-being.

With over $43 million in funding from foundations, health insurance companies, and the state of Michigan, the program is set to continue for three years. Hanna-Attisha believes that using Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds for new mothers is an approach other states could adopt. Additionally, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s budget plan for Michigan incorporated funding to replicate Flint’s pioneering cash assistance initiative for new mothers in multiple other cities across the state.

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